Wine Reviews

Browse collection of wine reviews.


Chateau d'Esclans Rock Angel Rose (Cotes de Provence)

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Provence's Chateau d'Esclans is justifiably famous for their roses, particularly the fact that they offer one of the world's most expensive pink wines. The skill that informs their most famous offerings goes into their entire lineup, including the relatively new Rock Angel. This blend is made primarily from Grenache and Rolle (more commonly known as Vermentino), giving it a juicy, vibrant mouthfeel. The verve is tempered by a bit of time in oak, which rounds out the wine nicely, delivering textbook d'Esclans elegance.

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2014 Qupe Bien Nacido Vineyard 'Y' Block Chardonnay (Santa Barbara County)

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Those who have written off affordable California Chardonnay would do well to revisit Qupe's Y Block. There's little not to like in this Chardonnay, which deftly balances tropical fruit and cream flavors with vivacity and great palate energy. An open bottle isn't likely to make it long during a dinner party, given its crowd-pleasing sense of poise.

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The Calling 2014 Pinot Noir (Russian River Valley)

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

If you enjoy your Pinot with a bit of heft and substance, or are just looking for an alternative red to enjoy with a steak, The Calling is a good option. This Russian River Valley Pinot Noir can be thought of as being brought to you by the letter C; not just for its namesake, but for the cola, cherry, cinnamon, clove, and cranberry aromas and flavors that it delivers.

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McCay Cellars Trulux Zinfandel (Lodi)

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

The celebrated McCay Cellars has been turning the modern idea of California Zinfandel (big, jammy, and hot) on its ear for a few years now. While certainly not a wine that one would mistake for Italian Primitivo, McCay's Trulux Lodi Zinfandel not only retains the ripe, plummy juiciness for which Lodi is well known, but manages to balance it with notes of pepper, dried herbs, and a sense of palate lift. That combination shows a side of Zinfandel to which many might not yet be familiar: elegance.

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2014 Cusumano 'Alta Mora' Etna Rosso, Sicily

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Tasting an enticing, moderately-priced red like Cusumano's Alta Mora, you can get an immediate sense of why so many people have such a favorable view of the wines coming from Sicily's volcanic Mount Etna region. Showcasing Sicily's native Nerello Mascalese grape, the Alta Mora is vibrant, perfumed, spicy, and smoky, making it a great introduction to the region, the grape, and a great match for duck.

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2013 Roco Winery RMS Brut, Willamette Valley

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

While it will cost you a pretty penny, those looking for a surprise (and to surprise their wine-loving friends) will find much to love in the Roco Winery RMS Brut sparkling wine debut. While it hails from Willamette Valley, this bubbly combines the focus, floral aromas, complexity, and liner acidity normally associated with more famous sparkling wine regions. In a blind tasting lineup with grower Champagnes, you'd be hard-pressed to pick out the RMS, which is a testament to how well this wine is crafted, and an exciting indication of what the future will hold for the brand.

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E. Guigal Crozes-Hermitage, Rhone

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

Fewer names are as closely associated with a wine region as Guigal with the Rhone, and their extensive experience in the area is evident in their perennially tasty Crozes-Hermitage red. This is French Syrah at its most accessible: fruity, lively, juicy, and peppery. Even better, it's also a wine that punches well above its price's weight class in terms of quality.

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2013 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

In a warm growing year for Napa Valley, Montelena has here managed a Cabernet that is primarily defined by elegance. Yes, it's dense and fruity (we are talking about Napa here, after all), but the black fruits are kept aloft on enticing acidity. The complex notes of cocoa, coffee, vanilla bean, spice, and dried herbs are the icing on the cake.

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2012 Acinum Amarone della Valpolicella, Veneto

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

In the colder winter months, sometimes we want a wine robust enough to warm our bones. That's a good time to turn to the powerful wines of Amarone. Too often, however, Amarone wines provide power by sacrificing freshness and subtlety; not so in Acinum's 2012 release. Yes, this is a chewy, weighty, and spicy red, with powerful alcoholic strength and dried red berry and prune fruit flavors. But it also has a vivacity and liveliness that make it a more versatile food match than your typical Amarone, making it well worth its price tag.

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2014 Fox Run Vineyards Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes

Contributed by: Joe Roberts

A sort of quiet revolution has taken place in the Finger Lakes region of New York state. Without much fanfare, the area's best producers have raised their Riesling chops to world-class levels, and more and more wine lovers are taking notice. A great example can be found in Fox Run's Dry Riesling. This Seneca Lake producer is one of the region's leaders, with their flagship Riesling evoking limes, white flowers, and wet slate.

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